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Tag Archive 'land-lease essay'

Lend-Lease

August 21, 2008

The Lend-Lease scheme was certainly a political act of unexampled generosity.  Churchill’s description to Parliament of the plan as a “most unsordid act” recognized the rarity in human affairs of such far-seeing and imaginative action.  R.S.Sayers (1956) in one of the British official histories of the Second World War described it as “a story, above all else, of unprecedented generosity on the part of the American nation” (p.375).  Of course, in political decisions altruism is unlikely to be the sole motive, and no secret was ever made of the vital importance to the United States of the survival of Britain, and indeed of the fighting capacity of the Soviet Union.  Indeed, it was this consideration that Roosevelt used to persuade a traditionally, even instinctively, isolationist American public to support his plan.  In aiding the British “we are following… hard-headed self-interest,” he said (Dallek, 1981, p.252). If Britain fell, he said, the United States would be in real peril.  “Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now” (ibid, 256).  Similarly, Roosevelt was prepared to aid the Soviet Union, braving the strong anti-communism of most Americans, because he “saw a substantial quid pro quo in some 280 Russian divisions fighting a like number of German troops” (ibid, 295-6).  …

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